On Height and Doorways and the Worm: A Satire
November 12, 2011 Leave a comment
Because of a shortage of acquirable land nearby and the need for more classroom space, the Northern University of North Texas (NUNT) has created a new type of architecture. The new buildings function as normal collections of classrooms, but hallways, restrooms, and public lobby spaces sport ceilings no more than 5 feet tall. Furthermore, all the hallways and stalls are no wider than 2 feet.
Tall students have complained, saying they must duck continually to get to their classrooms, and wide students say they must walk sideways. Students both tall and wide have begun lying on one side and wriggling their way to class. Some have aptly called the new hallways “worm space.”
Initially, the university ignored such complaints, but the cleaning staff soon complained of work hazards in the restrooms. And one tall student sued, accusing the university of causing back problems and a tired spine.
So NUNT, though not addressing the issue of bathroom usage, installed expensive portals that transport students to their classrooms. Unfortunately, the portals cannot transport directly to each classroom, so students must use several portals before reaching their destination. And as the portal takes ninety seconds to operate, tall and wide students must line up to use it, and often transport late to class.
Tall and wide students have complained, but most have left NUNT. While NUNT expresses regret about the loss of tall and wide perspective, representatives say that it’s costly to make exceptions in architecture and that NUNT is currently meeting AHA (Americans with Height Act) and AWA (Americans with Width Act) standards.
At NUNT, remaining tall and wide students struggle more academically and socially due to the added emotional strain.
“It’s so hard to go to class, much less a lecture,” said Tiffany Lawrence, a wide sophomore. “It takes me 15 minutes to go where others can walk to in one. And ‘short’ restroom trips don’t exist.”
“The problem isn’t with me,” said junior Francis Dumeh, a tall. “There are other buildings at other colleges that can let me in, and I function just as well as other students. The problem is with the architecture.”
Lawrence and Dumeh have petitioned the administration to change things.
“Having to transport to other buildings to go to the bathroom, getting angry looks from other students because I get ‘special treatment,’ having specific doors and halls just like servants in the 1800s had, it’s all ridiculous,” Lawrence said. “How would you feel if you had to deal with all of that? If something about you kept you from entering certain doors? Like, asthma or a peanut allergy. Is that fair? Does that mean you can’t function?”
Together, Lawrence and Dumeh have founded the “Large Awareness Club.” Dumeh said they are petitioning for equality in university policy, as well as awareness and sympathy from other students.
“We’re fighting to change the discrimination in the landscape,” said Dumeh.